The Perfect Stage Manager’s Kit

Q2Q Comic by Steve Younkins (q2qcomics.com)

This blog post came about ironically while I was in a rehearsal tonight – after I forgot the cable needed to hook the iPad up to the sound system…

For those who don’t know my background, I trained as a stage manager and worked on both amateur and professional shows for over 10 years (yep – I started when I was 15 years old!). Although I’m more in the Education field, my love for theatre still keeps going and when (and if) I have time, I’ll happily help on shows.

Which is why I’m helping on Hull and East Yorkshire’s Pantomime this year (oh no you’re not – oooo yes I am!!) and it’s time to dust off my black clothes and crack on with the show. But a Stage Manager should always be prepared – this I failed at when I brought the iPad and the adapter to run through sound cues with the cast – but no HDMI cable! I managed to improvise but it did remind me to make sure to bring my trusty kit to the next rehearsal, and to future rehearsals… and the show!

So what is inside a Stage Manager’s kit?

To be honest – what isn’t in there?! Here’s a list of items that are usually in my kit:

Stationary

  • Pencil case – with pencils, sharpner, rubber, rulers and LOTS of pens. They will go missing, they will be found in areas you have forgotten about (usually behind the ear or in the hair… which I’ve just found now!)
  • Post it notes – reminders or warnings
  • Sharpies – a stage manager’s best friend
  • Glue – any type! Always handy in a prop emergency
  • Condoms – don’t laugh, but again they are handy for mic-packs!
  • Paperclips – Holding things together… just like my life
  • Stapler with staples – also handy to include a staple remover
  • Push pins – especially when you want to put passive aggressive (or nice) notes on the notice board)
  • Tape – red, yellow, pink, green, orange, purple, blue, black, white, stripey, sellotape, boob tape, duct tape – basically any tape is good tape! It will have a use somewhere – from microphones to sticking scenery together and hoping for the best
  • Corrector fluid – perfect for mistakes and as a white touch up on something (believe me!)
  • Scissors – make sure you have an extra pair – they will go missing!
  • Elastic bands – As much as it’s tempting to fire it at someone, it will probably be needed too!
  • Chalk – mark outs on scenery which means it can be rubbed off
  • Blue tac/white tac – handy to stick things on walls without ripping paint off… or making little people
  • Hole puncher – Especially for copies of scripts in new folders
  • Plain labels – not just to write your name on, but to mark out anything too.

Personal products

  • Sewing kit with safety pins – always handy when there’s a wardrobe malfunction and the costume team are busy!
  • First aid kit – not just for boo boos, but also for microphones
  • Paracetamol – perfect for those headaches!
  • Sweets – you have to keep some energy up (and you’ll become a favourite!)
  • Bobbles and hair pins – they’re easy to go missing in dressing rooms, so it’s always handy to have some extra near the stage
  • Sanitary products – I did say a stage manager has to be prepared…
  • Antibacterial gel/wipes – because hands will go places you never imagined
  • Hair spray – not only works wonders for the hair but also to stop tights running!
  • Lighter – especially if there’s candles that need to be lit (just make sure it’s flame-proof and a risk assessment has been done!)
  • Clear nail polish – great for touch ups as well
  • Lint roller – handy for cast just before they go on… or for you to get rid of dog hair on your black clothes!
  • Gum – as long as no one is chewing on stage, you’re fine!
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste – I know… but sometimes it’s needed!
  • Tissues – someone will either end up crying or having a cold. It could even just be you!
  • Chapstick – though just make sure no one has a cold sore!

Tools

  • Mag flashlight/Torch – not too bright that the audience can see it flashing off stage during a dark scene… but bright enough you can find that missing prop lurking in the shadows! (put a filter on to make it less bright)
  • Tape measure – especially when you realise the scenery is slightly too big!
  • Cables (extra) – refer back to when I forgot my cable for tonight’s rehearsal! But also handy when it’s chargers etc (you can get multiple-head connections!)
  • Cable ties – Handy to keep anything together!
  • Small toolkit – screwdrivers, allen keys, mini drills – basically if it’s a tool, then have it in your box!
  • Stanley knife – though keep away from children…
  • Batteries – your sound op will love you!
  • USB stick – back everything up if you’re working on your laptop
  • Rigging gloves – especially if the crew is short on the ground
  • WD40 – goodbye squeaky scenery and hellooooo silence!

There could be so much more – so you have to make sure you have a decent toolkit to carry everything in. It may cost a fair bit to get all of these but start off by getting free stuff/samples and eventually build it up.

In the mean time, have a look on my Pinterest board Theatre  for everything from apps to inspirational theatre quotes that keep reminding me how much I love the theatre!

emma sig